Students enter classrooms at Nanjing Forestry University for the graduate school entrance exam on Saturday. The number of applicants exceeded 1.5 million this year. Sun Can / Xinhua
Undergrads fear tight quotas will keep them out of top universities
BEIJING - Huge pressure to land a good job and the desire to pursue a higher academic degree pushed a record number of people to take the national post-graduate exam this past weekend.
The number of applications reached 1.5 million this year, a 7-percent annual increase, according to the Ministry of Education.
About 510,000 people, or one in three, will make the cut, according to the ministry.
However, many test takers complained that they won't have a fair chance to get into their desired schools because some popular universities have increased their quotas for students recommended by their own schools for further postgraduate studies - students who will not be required to take the exam.
For example, about half of the undergraduates in Tsinghua University qualified for postgraduate study without taking the national post-graduate entrance exam in 2011, according to Guo Zhao, chief of the students' admission office of Tsinghua University.
Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of Beijing-based 21st Century Education Research Institute, said such a practice gives universities more say in selecting postgraduate students, and allows universities to judge potential post-graduates during their undergraduate studies.
Currently, only colleges with graduate schools, or those listed in the national "211 Project" - a list of the key 100 schools in the country - can recommend postgraduates who do not have to take the national exam, according to a report by China Central Television.
However, a senior student majoring in Chinese at Shanghai-based East China Normal University, who gave his surname as Yuan, said such policies can ruin the dream of many other students.
"Many undergraduates who failed to get into a prestigious university during the college entrance exam want the opportunity (of the postgraduate exam) to change their fate," Yuan said. "But if those popular universities reserve most of their postgraduate quota for recommended students, it will cut the opportunities for those from other schools."
Xinhua contributed to this story.
(China Daily 01/17/2011 page2)